Early Wendell Berry Essay at The Nation

To celebrate its 150th year of publication, The Nation has published an anniversary edition containing work from across that span of time. A selection from Mr. Berry's "The Landscaping of Hell" (found in his first essay collection, The Long-Legged House) is included:

The mining companies have made it clear that they will destroy anything, they will stop at nothing, so long as the result can be inked in black on their accounting sheets. They have been abetted by the mischief and greed of local officials, by public indifference, by state paralysis, by federal cross-purposes and confusion. Against them there has been only a local organization of small landowners.

If there is to remain any hope at all for the region, strip mining will have to be stopped. Otherwise, all the federal dollars devoted to the region’s poor will have the same effect as rain pouring on an uprooted plant. To recover good hope and economic health the people need to have their land whole under their feet. And much of their land has already been destroyed.

To destroy a forest or an ecology or a species is an act of greater seriousness than we have yet grasped, and it is perhaps of graver consequence. But these destructions will mend. The forest will grow back, the natural balances will be restored, the ecological gap left by the destroyed species will be filled by another species. But to destroy the earth itself is to destroy all the possibilities of the earth, among them the possibility of recovery. The land destroyed by strip mining is destroyed forever; it will never again be what it was, it will never be what it would have become if let alone. Such destruction makes man a parasite upon the source of his life; it implicates him in the death of the earth, the destruction of his meanings. Those men who send the bulldozer blades into the mountainsides bear the awesome burden of responsibility for an act that no one can fully comprehend, much less justify.

To read more of this and an appreciative essay by Wen Stephenson, go to The Nation.

Wendell Berry at I Love Mountains Rally

Noted poet, essayist and novelist Wendell Berry was on hand again this year, but he said he doesn’t expect much response by Kentucky’s elected officials.

He said he’s been protesting surface mining and the effects on the land since 1964 but not much has changed.

“It has been hopeless so far,” Berry said of his decades’ long fight against strip mining. He noted the efforts by Gov. Steve Beshear and U.S. Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers to reinvigorate the economy of eastern Kentucky – an economy that has relied for decades almost exclusively on the coal industry.

“But it is futile to try to do something for people while you let the land be destroyed beneath their feet,” Berry said.

via nature-news-network

also at dailyindependent.com

Wendell Berry and Bill Moyers

Beginning October 4, PBS will air a special conversation between two of the people I admire most in the world – Kentucky farmer and author Wendell Berry, and journalist Bill Moyers. Among many other topics, these two giants of American culture will discuss issues very close to my heart: coal, climate change, and the future of Appalachia and the planet. I can’t wait to tune in to Wendell Berry: Poet & Prophet. I hope you will, too.

via Grist

Wendell Berry on Kentucky's two parties

The two-party arrangement in Kentucky really has not much to do with Republicans and Democrats. The two parties that actually matter are the Party of Coal and the Party of All Else.

The second of these, unlike the first, is not a one-interest party. It is necessarily diverse, for it includes many interests, some of which are not primarily or exclusively human. It includes most notably a substantial number of people who respect the ecological principles of wholeness, coherence, and endurance. They understand moreover that all living creatures are dependent ultimately on the integrity of ecosystems, which are unities composed of an immense number and diversity of creatures.

via kentucky.com

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2013/09/08/2810248/wendell-berry-epas-duty-to-limit.html#storylink=cpy

Of interest: A review of "Coal Mountain Elementary"

In Coal Mountain Elementary, facts are restated in response to an implied question which might go something like this: What kind of poem would you make out of the lives and deaths of coal miners throughout the world? As a composite of verbatim news reports, testimonies, and curricula, Coal Mountain Elementary is a matter of record: Mark Nowak did not “write” this book any more than Langston Hughes “wrote” a poem on the Johannesburg mines. But who “wrote” Coal Mountain Elementary is less interesting to me than what Nowak reveals about how we define authorship, and what we call Coal Mountain Elementary (poetry; not poetry; found poetry; documentary poetry; investigative poetry; working class poetry; labor poetry) is less interesting to me than what the book reveals about our expectations for poetry.

via jacket2.org

Of interest: Biggers interviews Blanton

Hailed as a cross between Erin Brockovich and the legendary Aunt Molly Jackson, Harlan County native Teri Blanton has been one of the most inspiring and fearless activists on the eastern Kentucky coalfield frontlines. While national media attention on mountaintop removal mining has been focused on West Virginia, Blanton often reminds audiences that more than 290 mountains and 574,000 acres of hardwood forests–58 percent of the devastation in central Appalachia–have been blown to bits by reckless mining operations in eastern Kentucky. A long-time fellow and strategist with the Kentuckians for the Commonwealth on clean water, clean energy and coal issues, Blanton most recently took part in the 4-day Kentucky Rising sit-in at the governor’s office in Frankfort, Kentucky, calling for an immediate end to mountaintop removal.

via www.alternet.org

Reece: "Coal industry 'gift' cost UK a celebration"

Last week at the White House, President Barack Obama awarded Kentucky author Wendell Berry the National Humanities Medal.

Last week on the campus of the University of Kentucky, work began in earnest on the Wildcat Coal Lodge.

Because of the latter, UK can claim no institutional pride in the former. And that is sad.

Because President Lee T. Todd Jr. and the UK Board of Trustees agreed to insert the word "coal" into the name of the new men's basketball dorm, in exchange for $7 million from a group of coal operators, Berry announced last summer that he was withdrawing his papers from UK and severing all ties with the university.

via www.kentucky.com

"PSC Approves EKPC Request To Cancel Power Plant"

The Kentucky Public Service Commission (PSC) on Monday approved the cancellation of a power plant that East Kentucky Power Cooperative, Inc. (EKPC) had begun constructing in Clark County.

In a related case, the PSC also permitted EKPC to establish a regulatory asset for consideration of future recovery through rates of the $157.4 million that it has already spent on the plant. EKPC will attempt to sell or put to other use the plant components and materials that it has already purchased, thus reducing the amount it will seek to recover through rates.

Both the plant cancellation and the establishment of the regulatory asset are addressed in a settlement reached by EKPC with other parties to the proceedings. They include the Kentucky Office of Attorney General, Gallatin Steel Co., and Wendell Berry, John Patterson and John Rausch, who are member-customers of rural electric cooperatives in the EKPC system.

via www.lex18.com

Another p.o.v.: "Compromise valuable in mountaintop mining debate"

At issue | Various articles, columns and editorials on recent protests against mountaintop removal mining.

"How do we submit? By not being radical enough. Or by not being thorough enough, which is the same thing." Wendell Berry farmer, writer, activist, poet

...the poet must not avert his eyes" — Werner Herzog

Something about what is happening to the coal-bearing Appalachian Mountains is making me very angry.

Something about the title of Wendell Berry's essay "Compromise, Hell!" makes me very angry, too.

via www.kentucky.com

More on Frankfort Sit-in to End Mountaintop Removal Mining

Feb. 25, 2011 —     They went into the governor’s office on a Friday afternoon as concerned citizen-activists. They emerged the following Monday as “Kentucky Rising.”

    That’s the name of a group of citizens who are committed to ending the practice of surface mining better known by many as mountaintop removal. Morehead State University Professor John Hennen was among 14 persons who traveled to Frankfort on Feb. 11 and staged a three-day sit-in at Gov. Steve Beshear’s office.

    “We came out with an identity that we did not have going in,” Hennen said.

via themoreheadnews.com